The Chicago Fire, Eastern Conference leaders, take on Chivas USA, head of the Western Conference, on Thursday. A key cog to Chicago's defensive hopes is fullback Gonzalo Segares.
The Costa Rican sat down for an interview with associate editor Zac Lee Rigg about the upcoming Chivas game as well as World Cup aspirations and contract issues.
Zac Lee Rigg: The game against Chivas USA is probably the biggest game of the season thus far. How is the feeling in the Chicago Fire camp?
Gonzalo Segares: We're really confident. I think these past two wins with shutouts definitely boost our confidence. We needed it. Not that we were playing bad, but we were allowing a couple of easy goals and it was tough on our confidence when we gave up what felt like victories for us but ended up draws in the end. It's tough. But we bounced back pretty good and these last two games help a lot.
What went into that shift from draws to wins? What was the final push to get two extra points from these games?
I think we tightened up things in the back. We were giving up a little bit of room and we weren't being so tight, giving up a lot of chances. I think they were capitalizing on that, and now we're more concentrated for 90 minutes. We close spaces and make it hard for the forwards of opposing teams.
You're still undefeated. What aspects go into a team to stay undefeated for 10 games? You may have given up some late goals, but never any game winners.
We have the character to bounce back. Last year we didn't do it;
when we were down one or two - zero we didn't bounce back. This year we
have been able to do it. In San Jose we came back three times, and
against Columbus we did it again. I think it's the fight the entire
team brings to the field. We never give up and we keep fighting until
it's the last minute. I think that's helped us a lot. Even though we've
been close to losing, we always bounce back and get at least a tie out of it.
Talk to me about Costa Rica. Are you guys confident you can make the World Cup?
Whoa. We're not confident, but it's definitely our goal to make it to the World Cup. I think it's going to be really hard. There are really good teams: the United States, Mexico, Honduras is right there and is always a tough team, and Trinidad, they made the last World Cup. It definitely isn't going to be easy, but as long as we win the games at home and are able to get a point or three on the road we're going to be in good shape. I think right now we've done everything right until this point. We got two victories at home. Next it's a really tough match against the United States, which, for me, is the best team in CONCACAF right now, a team that is really well organized with a lot of guys who play in Europe. It's going to be really hard, but I know how much they hate to go down to San Jose and play over there so we're going to play at home and we have to get the win.
How is the atmosphere within the national team?
Good. I think the mentality the new coach we got in Costa Rica is pretty good. He definitely has won the fans back, which was tough for us because before the fans weren't very happy with us. It's always hard to get them on our side. He has done that and that has definitely boosted the confidence of the team. Right now our confidence is at a good level. He's just making everyone happy to play around him, it's a good atmosphere to play around, so I think we're confident we can have a good game and win.
What would it mean for your career to be able to play in a World Cup?
I think for anybody that's a dream come true. Any professional player would love to be in the World Cup, the biggest stage in the world, and represent their country. For me it would be a dream come true and right now we're working hard to make it over there.
What do you want to see happen in your career before you retire? You're 26 now so you have maybe a decade left on the outside.
As a player, you always want to play at the highest level you can. For me, I'd love to go over to play in Europe in a bigger league. At the same time, the World Cup is really important. Now that I'm being taken into consideration for the national team it's a really big step for me. Trying to make it to the World Cup is a big point in my career. Let's hope that works out first. Now I'm at a point that I'm close to the end of my contract here with Chicago. We're still working on that, I really don't know what's going to happen next.
Does it expire at the end of this year?
Yeah. Yeah, so now it's frustrating because I don't know what's going to happen next. But you've just got to wait and see what happens. We'll deal with that at the end of the year when it comes to it. Right now the qualifiers are really important that I have to have my focus on. At the same time, here in Chicago we're doing things really good. It's a special group we've got right now, and hopefully this is our year. We've been so close for so many years past. This is my fifth season, and in three out of the four seasons before we've been in the conference finals. So it's been just one step away from making it to the final, and hopefully this is that year.
Zac Lee Rigg is an associate editor of Goal.com
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